Even on Our Worse Days

Even on our worst days, we still serve a Great God who is on our side, and whose grace is sufficient for us. That’s good news. – Isaac Pittman


This Way of Life

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

As someone who lives and breathes mentoring, I always light up when I find a Scripture about disciple-making. One time, I was reading through the book of Matthew and as I neared the end, I knew I was about to read the Great Commission. I’ve quoted it forever, but this time I was reading The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson and found words I didn’t expect . . .

“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:19-20, The Message)

Train everyone in ‘this way of life.’ The way of life Jesus taught and modeled.

But what does that mean, right now, in the real world? Here’s what ‘this way of life’ means to me personally . . .

  • God is at the center of everything. The constant thought is “Thank you God.” “Thank you for loving me, for saving me, for adopting me into your family.” “Thank you for being with me, no matter what.”
  • Don’t worry. Whatever is coming my way, whatever is in my future will come through God’s hand. If He’s not causing it, He’s allowing it. So I’m leaning into the future, trusting that God loves me, that He is good and that He’ll be accessible to me as I go through whatever.
  • Be grateful for money, but never forget it all comes from Him. I can’t spend a single dollar in the dark. He knows what I spend His money for, so I’m challenged to be careful what I spend and why I’m spending it.
  • The first place I’m to “train . . . in this way of life” is at home. Teaching and modeling the humility, selflessness and character of Jesus is my responsibility. Before Mom, before church, school, Boy Scouts, whatever . . . it’s Dad’s job to make disciples of his kids. To teach them ‘this way of life’ by living it as consistently as possible since values are caught more than taught. And to teach them the principles of God as God shows them uniquely to him.
  • Live your life for others. The Father and other people were everything to Jesus. He taught and modeled total selflessness.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45)

That’s what ‘this way of life’ means to me. Don’t get me wrong . . . I don’t live it out all the time. Far from it.

But ‘this way of life’ is what I want for me and my wife. It’s what I want for my kids and my grandkids. And it’s what I want for my mentees and their families. It’s what I want for everyone. It’s the best life possible. It’s incomparable.

Figuring out ‘this way of life’ is something everyone has to come to for himself. It would be pretty hard to argue against what I shared above since it’s straight from Scripture. But everyone has to seek God on their own, listen to His voice and fulfill His unique vision for their lives.

And the how questions are as plentiful as cars on the freeway. Family devotions? Family constitutions? Homeschooling? Mission trips? Serving in the church? Parachurch ministry? Leading a Radical Mentoring group? Everyone gets to figure out their own strategy for living and teaching ‘this way of life.’

So decide what ‘this way of life’ means for you. Write it down. Think about it. Pray over it. Talk to your wife about it. Commit yourself to it.

Then decide what you’ll do to teach it to others, starting with your family and moving out from there.

And then do it.

And if you need a jumpstart on some strategies for this, consider joining us on Nov 9-10 at the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum in Nashville, TN. It will teach you how to be a disciple-maker in any aspect of life . . . from church leadership, to parenting, to working in men’s ministry. I’ll be leading the Men’s Ministry track and our whole team will be there as well. You can receive 20% off tickets using the code MENTORLIKEJESUS (More info here).

Scripture: Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, The Message)

Obedience is Faith Exercised

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

There’s a word nobody uses much anymore. In a world of freedom, positive reinforcement and behavior modification, this word seems old school and out of touch. The word is obedience.

Andrew Murray wrote a slew of devotional books back in the 1800’s but his book The Spirit of the Christ rocked my spiritual world. In it, Murray quotes Ezekiel 36:27. . .

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

He says the Holy Spirit we receive when we first believe convicts us of sin and leads us toward a new life in Christ. But if we want more of the Holy Spirit living in us . . . for His ‘still small voice’ to become a more prominent one . . . for our faith to grow from ‘that of a mustard seed’ to faith that can ‘move mountains’ and endure hardship, it only happens through obedience.

When God the Father gives an order, He takes responsibility for the outcome. For instance, when He commands, “Don’t have sex outside of marriage,” He knows the result will always be good if we obey. The commands of God in Scripture . . . things like the Ten Commandments are for all of us. But there are other commands He gives us individually. For example, God let me know 34 years ago that He doesn’t want me to drink alcohol. “You have a weakness Regi. It’s not something you handle well. It’s not for you.” I’ve obeyed. On another occasion, I was mad at my wife and left to sleep on the couch. In frustration, I asked, “Lord, what would you have me do with my anger right now?” His still small voice said, “Get up, go back in the bedroom and apologize.” I chose to obey. We made up immediately. Those were individual commands for me to obey . . . or not. Over and over, I have to make the choice . . . obey or disobey. Yield or resist. Give up my free will and move forward, doing what was asked. Or exert my free will and refuse to obey.

Each time I hear His voice and obey it, I grow in my faith. Future boldness grows on the shoulders of past obedience. The Holy Spirit’s voice gets louder and stronger in my soul. As I learn to trust His voice, obedience gets easier and easier because I know that if I obey the outcome will always be fine, whether it turns out the way I wanted or not. Over time, the obedient Jesus-follower gains favor with our Heavenly Father. Jesus told of the obedient servants in the story of the talents . . . how the Master promised to ‘put them in charge of many things’ because of their faithfulness in a few things.

So, the more we listen to the Holy Spirit living within us and the more we obey His voice and commands, the stronger His voice and our faith becomes. Startlingly simple. Overwhelmingly powerful.

Scripture: His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)

Perception is Reality

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

We’ve all heard the old saying “Perception is reality.” And it’s true . . . to a point. We act on what we perceive to be real and true. That’s functional reality but often, it’s not true reality.

The world has always been round but for thousands of years, it was perceived to be flat. Was it ever flat? Nope. Did people live like it was flat? Absolutely. For centuries, people were afraid if they went too far from shore, they could sail over the edge. The first theories of a spherical world showed up in Greek philosophy in the 6th century BC from Pythagoras and later in 330 BC from Aristotle. But only the ‘around the world and back again’ voyage of Magellan in 1521 proved the reality of a round earth. Since then, the earth being round has been inarguable, even though few have personally traveled ‘around the world and back again.’ But unless we’ve personally experienced circumnavigation of the earth, we’re still taking it on faith.

Another example: we live in fear of death because we perceive it as a reality. But true reality is that death is a transition from life-to-life, not life-to-deathJeremiah 1:5a says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .” We were alive before we were embodied in the ‘earth suit’ we wear. Then in John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” So, according to Jesus, we will live after our earth suits give out. Death is not reality . . . it is a perceived reality. We take it on faith. But because Jesus circumnavigated life-to-death, we will too.

Let’s bring this principle a little closer to home.

Perceived reality: “My wife just doesn’t love me anymore.” Once we get that reality into our heads, we’re constantly looking for evidence to prove it. Truth might be they don’t love us the way we want to be loved. Their acts of love don’t register with our selfish desires for how we want to be loved. They’re giving us love in pesos. We want it in dollar bills. We don’t value their pesos and are too busy, lazy and insensitive to learn the exchange rate. We just want what we want, when we want it. So while true reality is we’re being loved, we don’t perceive it. And since we can’t truly receive what we don’t perceive, it slips by unnoticed. Her acts of love aren’t valued, so they don’t matter, even though they may have come from a deep love in her heart.

The next time you find yourself thinking ‘it is what it is,’ think again. Maybe it’s just what you perceive it to beMaybe it’s time to talk to a trusted friend and check out your perceptions of reality with someone a little further from the fray.

Scripture: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)